The musical theatre department at Robert Bateman Secondary is presenting its most ambitious project since forming in 2012.
The school presents the full-length Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast on Feb. 6 and 7 at the Clarke Theatre (33700 Prentis Ave. in Mission).
Director Ray Dencer said the school’s previous two productions – Seussical in 2013 and The Little Mermaid last year – were both “junior” versions of the full-length shows, running about 75 minutes each.
At two and a half hours, Beauty and the Beast is twice as long and more challenging, with more lines to memorize, more songs to learn and more rehearsal time required.
“The students wanted to a do a full-length production … What they have found is it’s a lot more difficult than they thought,” he said.
The cast, composed of about 30 students in Grades 9 to 12, has been regularly rehearsing four days a week, with extra practices at lunch hours.
A 14-member pit band has also been busy rehearsing more than 20 musical pieces – including familiar Beauty and the Beast numbers such as Be My Guest and the title song – under the direction of Kris Werner.
It’s all presented on a huge two-storey set that Dencer said “fills the stage.”
Beauty and the Beast transports the audience to the heart of provincial life in a lovely French town.
When Maurice becomes lost in the woods on the way to the fair, he seeks shelter in an old castle, but the master of the castle is a horrible beast that takes him captive.
Maurice’s daughter, Belle, must then give up her freedom to save his life.
Belle’s taming of the unfortunate Beast and his ultimate transformation back into a handsome prince has enthralled Broadway audiences for more 13 years.
The Robert Bateman production features Meaghan McBryan and Amaris Henry sharing the role of Belle, while Dane Powroznik takes on the part of the Beast.
Other key roles are played by James Weststeijn (Gaston), Jessi Pomeroy (Maurice), Raychel Drader and James Campbell (Lefou), Isaiah Adachi (Lumiere), Kyle Keyworth (Cogsworth), Chelsie Lynn (Mrs. Potts), Taylor Schwartzenberger (Babette) and Katie Lusk (Chip).
Dencer said the musical is suitable for the whole family, and people are often surprised at the quality of the productions.
“High school kids can put on a pretty good show,” he said.
Public performances of the show take place Friday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 7 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Tickets are $10 and are available at the Clarke Theatre box office or through the Robert Bateman Secondary office (35045 Exbury Ave., phone 604-864-0220).